Australia has thousands of miles of roads crisscrossing the country’s vast Outback. But most travelers miss out on the beautiful sites dotted across the land by flying from one city to the next.
Four mates and I decided it was time for a closer exploration of the country we call home. And so, armed with our cameras, we hit the road for a seven-day, 1,900-mile journey across the Outback on our motorcycles.
When traveling in such a remote area, planning is essential. We booked our accommodations in advance so we had a definite plan that kept us on schedule.
We set out from Sydney and headed southwest across the state of New South Wales, bypassing the nation’s capital, Canberra, and heading west to Griffith. Thousands of sheep graze in pastures surrounding the town, which has a strong Italian heritage, a passion for food and a vibrant, creative culture. Griffith is Australia’s largest wine-producing region, featuring more than a dozen wineries and rich citrus and stone fruit orchards.
We’d stopped in Griffith because it was a convenient location, but we soon discovered its charms after a delicious dinner at the Bistro inside the Griffith RSL Club, a popular social club. The osso buco was one of the best I’ve tasted, and was worthy of any top restaurant’s menu.
Trips like this sometimes entail extreme conditions, which for us meant cold, early morning departures on dark roads infested with kangaroos and emus. It’s dangerous no matter what you’re driving, as ’roos bound across the pavement without warning.
Thankfully, Outback driving etiquette was on our side. Lumbering buses — better equipped to withstand a ’roo strike than a motorcycle — let us follow them, with the drivers hitting their turn signals to warn us of any hopping threats approaching from the left or right.
We made it safely to the Hay Plains, a flat region with little blocking the view of the horizon, and photographed a spectacular sunrise before traveling to Wentworth. The southwest New South Wales town is best known as the junction of the Murray and Darling Rivers, the country’s largest river system, and boasts the stunning Perry Sandhills, an expanse of wind-swept, red sand dunes.
After 620 miles on our bikes, Wentworth was a nice break from the saddle, offering plenty of sites to explore on foot and on the water, including a tour of a historic jail and a ride aboard an old-fashioned paddleboat.
Meals at the local pub, the Captain Sturt Hotel, provided a good opportunity to meet (and play pool with) the locals, and taste some hearty Outback cuisine. Vegetarians beware: the steaks here are the size of small dogs.
Our next stop was Broken Hill, a mining community in far west New South Wales. This is where you’ll find the harsher side of the Outback, with dry, cracked earth, spiky spinifex grass and jagged outcrops of granite and sandstone. The highway stretches ahead as far as the eye can see, cutting through barren, yet beautiful, countryside. You can travel an hour without seeing another soul.
Broken Hill offers accommodations ranging from $20 hostels to swank $250 hotels. After the long ride, we opted for swank, and checked into our posh digs before heading to nearby Silverton — famous as the shooting location for the post-apocalyptic film, Mad Max 2.